Video can be a powerful tool in changing the way people think about an issue. One Cody High School student recently used his filmmaking abilities to spotlight America’s opioid problem.
Junior Jake Sandvik took third place in Operation Prevention, a national public service announcement-creation contest sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The project was a family effort, with Jake’s sister Bea playing the video’s lead role.
His video, called “Wanna” features Bea, 9, sitting in a desk at CHS, saying all the things she wants to do when she grows up, such as an astronaut and president, and getting a puppy. The video takes a twist when she says, “I wanna try opioids.” The rest of the video is her “wanting” to go through the process of addiction, overdose and ultimately death.
The idea for the video began back in early February when Jake’s CHS Wired teacher Erika Quick told him about the contest. The only requirements for the video were a 30-60 second length, an anti-opioid message and an Operation Prevention banner at the end.
“I wanted him to avoid the typical stuff with party scenes and showing the drugs,” Quick said. “I told him to focus on what gets taken away from you.”
That was all it took for Jake to get his idea and run with it. He wrote the outline of the script over the course of a class period. Filming the PSA took about as long as writing it, with Jake feeding Bea lines, and her putting expression and excitement on them for the part.
“It was fun to be with Jake and be able to help with the project,” Bea said.
Jake and Bea are a proven team. In 2016, they won best cinematography and best actress in the Cheyenne Youth Short Film Festival Fear Fest with their entry “Deer.” Last year, their film “Umbral” won best picture, best cinematography, best editing and best actress in the same contest.
After shooting “Wanna,” the editing took Jake about a week. It was his favorite part of the process and he did color shifts and audio design for the video. He also made the music.
“It was good seeing it come together,” he said.
Quick had a chance to see the video before Sandvik submitted it, and though she had some technical questions, she saw it as a solid entry.
On May 9, the DEA announced its winners, with “Wanna” coming in third out of more than 400 entries from around the country. The video can be seen online at operationprevention.com/competition/video/archives/2019.
Jake earned a $1,000 prize for his efforts. Three officials from regional and national DEA offices were in Cody on May 20 to present him with the check.
David Tyree, the resident agent in charge for the DEA’s Wyoming office, was one of them.
“I felt the film really spoke about decision-making,” he said.
Making choices was one of the themes touched on in the presentation to CHS students that coincided with the award. Tyree thanked the Cody community for the warm reception. He says the key to success in battling opioids is changing the way people make choices
“We can’t arrest our way out of this,” he said.
And videos like Jake’s can be an integral part of influencing those decisions. Sandvik plans to pursue an angle of film studies after high school.